Free Online Art History Courses, Lectures & Learning Materials

See our list of the top free online art history courses. Learn about what courses are available and what topics they cover to find the course that's right for you.

Info on Free Online Courses, Lectures and Learning Materials in Art History

Online art history courses and learning materials typically provide students with access to video lectures, notes and outlines. Most are accompanied by slides illustrating the medium or style of work being discussed. Students who complete the free online courses profiled below will not receive university credit, though they can use these study guides, lectures and learning materials for self-study.

Free Online Art History Resources

Art in Renaissance Venice at the Open University

This course focuses on how Venice's ethnic diversity and trade industry defined the art of the Italian Renaissance. Online students can explore Eastern and Islamic influences on the city's architecture as well as examine several paintings. Discussion questions and sample answers are included at the end of the course.

Art Since 1940 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This undergraduate course covers art from Asia, Europe, Africa, the United States, Latin America and the Middle East. Students examine mainstream and lesser known forms of art as well as art's function as both a political and aesthetic tool. Lecture notes can be downloaded as PDF files and cover the San Francisco school, Andy Warhol, performance art, Mark Rothko, Frank Stella, minimalism and the Beat movement. Exam and paper topics are also available.

Caravaggio at the Open University

Written lessons discuss Caravaggio's work in the context of what is known about his life. Materials are presented over the course of several units that cover his biographical details and methods for interpreting his paintings. Available materials include a suggested reading list and activities with accompanying documentation.

Cycles: African Life Through Art at the Indianapolis Museum of Art

This virtual exhibition could be of interest to students of African art. The site presents separate galleries based on four distinct life cycles. Through a combination of images, musical recordings and textual information, students can see how artwork depicts ancestral relationships, youth, adulthood and leadership. The program also explores the cultural and social implications of each work.

Delacroix at the Open University

This introductory course on the artist Eugéne Delacroix discusses his work within the context of the Romantic movement and the Enlightenment. Students look at the artist's early life and piece together the various cultural and personal influences on his work, including the Oriental themes appearing in his paintings. Course materials include video recordings accompanied by notes.

History of Art Study Guide: 14th Century to the Present at Rice University

This resource includes links to slides and course outlines for a variety of artistic styles, periods and media. Students who're taking art history courses or just want to brush up on their skills can also use this site to test their ability to identify significant paintings, sculptures and architecture. The site includes external links to other art history resources as well.

Making Sense of Art History at the Open University

This 5-hour introductory course is designed to expose prospective art history students to the field. Students take a look at sculptures, paintings, photographs and mixed media installations in an attempt to understand what these images express. Additionally, students try to determine what these pieces say about the artists and their own lives.

Musée du Louvre at the Open University

The Open University offers this course to students interested in learning how the museum's collection has been assembled. It also attempts to trace its importance to the study of art history. Materials for this intermediate level course consist almost entirely of video clips accompanied by discussion questions and sample answers.

Roman Architecture at Yale University

Students are introduced to the architectural, urban planning and engineering achievements of the Roman empire. The course can help students understand the importance of aesthetics in Roman civilization. It also explains how classic Roman architecture and art spread through much of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Course materials include 23 audio and video lectures recorded on the Yale University campus in the Spring of 2009. Transcripts are available as are links to over 1,500 images of Roman art and architecture.

Web Gallery of Art

This website is a virtual museum of artwork that allows students to search for pieces from a particular artist. The Web Gallery's virtual tours also include both visual and textual information categorized by region, time period, style or medium. Other resources include a glossary of terms.

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